America is producing more natural gas than ever before due to hydraulic fracturing, even as the Obama administration continues its legal battle in federal courts to impose more rules on oil and gas drillers.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lawyers are trying to get the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to overturn a decision halting the agency’s fracking rules. A Wyoming court issued a stay against the BLM last year and chastised the agency for regulatory overreach. The court said it “does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking.”
“Because Congress has never excluded hydraulic fracturing from BLM expressly delegated authority, the district court erred,”BLM lawyers wrote in their opening brief, filed with the court Monday. “Substantial scientific and technical evidence in the record supports BLM’s expert conclusion that today’s greatly expanded hydraulic-fracturing operations pose a risk to groundwater, especially if well casings are inadequately designed or constructed.”
BLM’s legal arguments have perplexed the lawyers representing Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota and Utah, which are suing to stop the BLM from implementing fracking rules. States are suing the government along with the Ute Indian tribe and pro-industry groups like the Western Energy Alliance.